School choice would not only give parents their rightful prerogative to move their child out of a school that fails to meet their educational expectations; even more fundamentally, school choice would allow parents to choose a school that reflects the parents’ world view.
Although allegedly neutral, secular ideology has a distinct understanding of the cause of our existence, and of an intrinsically associated moral standard. That secular world view may be “politically correct” but is incompatible with and in fact stands in opposition to our country’s foundational Judeo-Christian world view and therefore is definitely not neutral.
Many would claim that allowing public education based in Judeo-Christian values would inappropriately bring religion into the classroom and the public sphere more generally. Yet this criticism fails to acknowledge the difference between worship and world view.
A short but necessary philosophical elaboration: Religion generally speaking has 2 components, worship and world view. Worship is clearly a private concern. Our government appropriately, unlike a theocracy such as Iran, cannot compel, promote, or disallow a particular form of worship. At the same time, all of our society, including our government, inherently must operate within the context of a values system. A values system is a reflection of a broader world view that includes an understanding of the cause of our humanity and the world, and an intrinsically related understanding of right and wrong. For each of us, that moral understanding reflects our world view and in a sense is our “religion”. From that perspective of a values system, “politically correct” secular humanism is as much a “religion” as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. To disqualify public policy positions because they are based on Judeo-Christian values, and to only allow consideration of public positions based in “non-religious” secular values reflects this misunderstanding or is a deliberate deception.
Undeniably our country was founded in principles arising from a Judeo-Christian world view – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Further, those principles, based on individual, not collective, rights and responsibilities, gave rise to the traditional American economic principles, freedoms, and values that resulted in American exceptionalism – not perfect but the most free, most just, and most prosperous country the world has ever known. Although it is painful to admit, the reality of American exceptionalism no longer exists as we have turned away from those principles, freedoms, and values, and instead embraced the collectivist philosophy of the European entitlement state, even as those countries are catastrophically failing socially and economically in front of our eyes.
Secular ideology now exclusively underlies all contemporary American public education. While formal religious instruction has not been taught in public schools for many generations, not so long ago, public education still included teaching understanding of good and evil and of right and wrong. That moral standard was understood as absolute, and essentially was derived from the Ten Commandments. Public education encouraged and extolled virtues such as love of God, country¸ and family; responsibility for self, family, and neighbor; respect for elders and those in authority; honesty, humility, charity, living within ones means, and industriousness, and our society was better as a result.
Now tolerance is exalted as the supreme virtue. Tolerance no longer simply means that persons have the right to hold different beliefs or belief systems. Such an understanding certainly is entirely consistent with the liberty and freedom intended by our Constitution. However, the new tolerance confers equivalency of all beliefs and belief systems, and thereby does not allow making a judgment of the relative goodness of one belief system over another. Clearly such an understanding of tolerance cannot be consistent with American freedom and liberty, when the foundational principles underlying our liberty and freedom can’t be judged as true and right.
I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that all public education should be based in a Judeo-Christian ideology. What I am arguing is the obvious injustice and error of public education imposing the secular values on those families who see those values as false and injurious, and who believe returning to our country’s foundational principles is the means to avert a financially and morally bankrupt future for our children. Progressive ideology would argue that those foundational values no longer are appropriate in our modern society, yet the replacement of our country’s foundational values has taken place gradually and insidiously without debate. School choice would promote an open ideological debate regarding the goodness and truth of those values vs. that of contemporary secular values. Further, school choice would create a real world educational and societal outcome competition based on those values.